Representative Chrissy Houlahan’s (D-PA) bipartisan Small Business Contracting Transparency Act of 2023 was unanimously passed by the House on Tuesday. The bill, H.R. 4670, introduced by Houlahan alongside Representative Pete Stauber (R-MN), is aimed at enhancing opportunities for small businesses owned by women, service-disabled veterans, and those situated in economically distressed areas to compete for federal contracts.
Houlahan, herself a former entrepreneur from southeastern Pennsylvania, understands the difficulties often faced by small business owners. She believes that providing fair access to federal contracts for women, veterans, and underrepresented communities is vital to expanding opportunities for small businesses and ensuring the federal government has a broad selection of quality goods and services.
The legislation seeks to improve the oversight, transparency, and efficiency of various Small Business Administration (SBA) programs. It mandates the SBA to submit annual reports detailing:
- The number of small businesses certified to participate in the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), the HUBZone, and the Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) programs.
- The total dollar amount and percentage of federal contracts awarded to qualifying small businesses in each SBA program.
- The number of ineligible businesses erroneously awarded a contract in each SBA program.
Despite federal law stipulating that agencies should aim to award 5% of all federal contract dollars to women-owned small businesses, 3% to economically distressed regions through the HUBZone program, and 3% to small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans, these goals are frequently unmet. For instance, since 2000, the federal government has only twice awarded 5% of all federal contract dollars to women-owned small businesses.
Houlahan, in her speech on the House floor, emphasized the importance of the Small Business Contracting Transparency Act. The bill not only seeks to level the playing field for disadvantaged entrepreneurs but also aims to strengthen the economy and support Main Streets across various zip codes. The legislation’s passage is a significant step towards improving the efficiency and impact of SBA programs, thereby providing greater opportunities for small businesses across the nation.